Germany sank a little deeper into the political crisis unleashed on the far right on Monday, while Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, current head of the CDU, announced that she would quit the presidency of the Conservative party and give up running for the Chancellery in 2021.
Angela Merkel’s runner-up among the German conservatives threw in the towel on Monday 10 February, drawing lessons from the major political crisis that had opened up around the question of possible alliances between the moderate right and the far right.
President of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for just over a year now, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer justified her surprise decision at an internal meeting, notably by the temptation of a fringe of the movement to cooperate with the Alternative Anti-Migrant and Anti-Elite Party for Germany (AfD).
She explained that “part of the CDU has an unclear relationship with the AfD” , while she herself clearly rejects any alliance, a source close to the movement told AFP.
The movement is in fact torn between adversaries and supporters of cooperation with the far right, especially in the former GDR where the latter is very strong and complicates the formation of majorities.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, nicknamed by her initials AKK, is therefore the main political victim to date of the earthquake caused last week by the decision of CDU regional elected representatives in Thuringia to mix their voices with those of the AfD , elect a new leader of this state.
The affair turned into a national scandal because not only did these elected officials break free from the general instructions given by the party of Angela Merkel, but they thereby broke a taboo in German political history after the war: the refusal of any cooperation with the extreme right on the part of the other traditional parties.
Accused for several days of not keeping her troops, the president of the Christian Democratic Union has drawn the consequences.
She informed the members of her management gathered behind closed doors that she “does not aim to be a candidate for the German Chancellery” . Whereas she was until now considered as the runner-up of Angela Merkel for the next legislative elections scheduled for the end of 2021 at the latest.
AKK also said it would step down in the coming months as president of the party, with what looks like a spade to mentor Angela Merkel.
She indeed considered that in her eyes the chancellery, the candidacy for the chancellery and the presidency of the party should “clearly” go hand in hand. A way of indicating that Angela Merkel made a mistake at the end of 2018 by deciding to stay in the chancellery but to abandon the presidency of the party, to entrust it to AKK.
Angela Merkel had at the time renounced the presidency of the CDU because of her growing unpopularity following a series of electoral setbacks and the progression of the extreme right.
But, without the Chancellery, AKK never succeeded in imposing itself, despite his subsequent appointment to the government as Minister of Defense to give him more political profile with a sovereign portfolio.
“AKK will organize the selection process for the candidacy for the Chancellery this summer ,” a source close to the CDU told AFP. She will continue to prepare the party to face the future and then relinquish the presidency. “However, she must keep her post as Minister of Defense.
Her withdrawal shuffles the cards for the succession to Angela Merkel, in power since 2005 but whose last mandate started in spring 2018 is marked by a series of crises and tensions, both within her coalition government with the Social Democrats and ‘inside his party.
The announced departure of AKK in particular leaves the field open to the CDU to its great rival, also sworn enemy of Angela Merkel: Friedrich Merz.
Holding on to the right to recover some of the voters who left for the AfD – after the centrist course led by Angela Merkel in power in recent years – the latter had already been beaten by only one hair for the party presidency in December 2018.
He recently gave up his controversial job for an investment fund and said he was available.